Catholic Church supports Ssangyong workers, Miryang residents

The meeting presided over by Bishop Matthias RiIong-hoon of Suwon reiterated the Church’s commitment to defense, protection and care of the poor and unemployed.

Korea
Feb 07 2014, 3:14 PM
Catholic Church supports Ssangyong workers, Miryang residents
Workers of Ssangyong Motors protesting outside the factory. (File picture, 2009)

The Justice and Peace Commission of South Korea’s Catholic Bishops will donate the equivalent of $55,000 for workers of Ssangyong Motors who were dismissed in 2009 when the automobile company faced financial crisis. The duress following the dismissal led to 23 workers or family members dying from stress-related disorders or committing suicide.

The Catholic Church will also negotiate with the government on behalf of farmers and elderly residents of Miryang protesting against the construction of high-voltage power lines from a nuclear power plant.

The bishops’ body would ask the government to reconsider its energy policy, heavily dependent on nuclear energy. It will promote activities to inform the faithful about the risks of nuclear energy production, raising awareness on the issue of sustainable development and environment protection.

The decision of the Episcopal Conference of the Korean bishops has been inspired by Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. The meeting presided over by Bishop Matthias RiIong-hoon of Suwon reiterated the Church’s commitment to defence, protection and care of the poor and unemployed. 

The bishops expressed concern over the two major social issues troubling Korean society and reaffirmed the close connection between evangelization and authentic development of society.

Ssangyong had laid off thousands of workers in 2009 after it was put under court receivership in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. Around 1,900 employees were forced to ‘retire’, 159 were dismissed and 455 were forced to take unpaid leave.

In 2010, Indian automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra acquired Ssangyong Motor from Chinese manufacturer Shanghai Automotive Industry. In January 2013 after its financial status improved, the company reinstated workers on unpaid leave. However, ‘retired’ and dismissed workers were not reinstated.

In Miryang, residents have been in conflict in the last eight years with the Korea Electric Power Corporation over the building of high-voltage transmission towers in the area. The struggle of Miryang residents has drawn the sympathies of students and activists from across the country. On January 25, about 3000 people from cities throughout South Korea gathered in Miryang, 47 km from Busan, to protest against the 765kV Power transmission towers.

Source: Agenzia Fides

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